ASA Chesapeake Charge 2, Virginia Beach City FC 2
The Charge were supposed to kick off their 2016 season on Saturday, May 21, by hosting the Richmond Strikers, but that match was called off due to the weather.
Instead, on an unseasonably cool Tuesday evening, they hosted Virginia Beach at Arundel High School’s Carroll Field.
Chesapeake have lost some key players after several years of being a WPSL powerhouse, including forwards Laura Kane, Maria Kresge, and Cheyenne Skidmore; defender Jennifer Gillette; and goalkeepers Lyndse Hokanson and Erin Quinn. In fact, on this evening despite being the home team they had just twelve players. As a result, while they still play quality soccer they’re no longer quite so formidable.
As for the visitors, when the Virginia Beach Piranhas played in the W-League (before they folded after the 2013 season), they were notorious for their physical play. With a head coach (John Germanos) and assistant coach (the legendary Mercy Akide-Udoh) who coached and played for the Piranhas, respectively, it’s no surprise that this team is similar. This game featured numerous fouls, complaints from both benches about uncalled fouls, and at least three yellow cards.
City had the best early opportunities. In the 16th minute, Kyra Ricks got an open look at goal by faking an outside move and then cutting inside, but Charge goalkeeper Lauren Vetock was able to make the save. Four minutes later Francesca Ramirez was able to get open after a nice buildup but shot high.
Two minutes after that and somewhat against the run of play, the Charge got on the board with a corner kick that looked like an own goal from the pressbox – headed in by a defender – but was credited by the announcer to Talita Pereira.
Sheyenne Stretz would tie it up for Virginia Beach in the 30th minute after getting a good feed from Ramirez and then chipping Vetock, who was able to get her fingertips on the ball but not stop it. (During the game credit was switched between these two, but I’m trusting the Beach match writeup.)
The half would end with the score 1-1.
The home team had two good chances in the 51st minute. First Sarah Bonney got behind the defenders but while pressured from behind shot high from the top of the box. Seconds later, Pereira was wide open out from the left post and received a low cross, but she was only able to muster a weak tap-in that goalkeeper Olivia Miller had no trouble collecting.
In the 54th minute, the Charge’s Andrzejewski sisters mounted a counterattack after a clearance on a Beach corner kick. Bridgette came down the right and passed to Ali, but Ali’s shot missed just wide right.
A minute later, Virginia Beach mounted a 4-on-3 break, but Vetock was barely able to get to the ball before the open forward could.
The visitors took the lead in the 63rd minute off a long ball sent in by Alani Johnson from the right to out from the left post. Vetock ran out to challenge, but Stretz got there first and was able to tap it into the lower right corner.
In the 72nd minute, the Charge were awarded a free kick about 25 out from the end line and well to the left. Despite derisive chants coming from City fans in the nearby bleachers, Pereira stepped up and sent a perfectly placed ball into the upper right corner.
Ten minutes on, Bridgette Andrzejewski looked determined to break the deadlock singlehandedly as she got the ball along the left sideline near midfield and cruised in, blowing past two defenders and cutting in toward goal. But with Miller charging out to cut down the angle, she missed just wide left.
The teams would continue working hard for the last few minutes of regulation and into stoppage time, but the final whistle would blow with the score at 2-2. Due to the lateness of the match, I didn’t stick around for post-game interviews.
The Virginia Beach City FC writeup on the match is available here .
The ASA Chesapeake Charge next take on the Washington Spirit Reserves in an historic first meeting of two teams that have traditionally been the class of their respective leagues. That game will be at Stone Ridge High School in Bethesda on Sunday at 5. (Regrettably I don’t expect to be there as I’m helping a friend move that weekend.)
Washington Spirit Academy 3, Fredericksburg FC 0
In their 2014 inaugural season, the Academy (then the Braddock Road Stars Elite) added a core of veteran players (Marisa Park, Kristen Meier, Allie Wisner) to their contingent of young players, most of whom had yet to play at the college level, and were good enough to finish second in the Northeastern Conference.
Last year, “Parkie” and Wisner moved on, and Meier was injured in only their second match. They were left to face the buzz saw of the very tough Southeastern Conference with only their youth players, and the result was a 1-11-0 record.
This year it’s still just the youth players. (Meier is healthy again but has decided to take up coaching full-time.) But, as captain Rachel Moore pointed out, “The younger players are getting older, and they’re stronger and a lot more experienced.”
It was good enough for a dominating 3-0 win in this match, even with the team still shorthanded. “We have an injury,” said Moore. “So I’m filling in at center back. A lot of people are out of position right now.”
My impression of the first half was that Fredericksburg had the better chances with Academy goalkeeper Madison Card making multiple big saves nullifying those chances, but head coach Larry Best saw it differently. “Madi made some saves, but most were because her positioning was not good on balls over the top or through our defense, and she had to react to that. If she were more proactive in reading the tactics of the game she would not have had to make some of those saves. She did well on corners and shots from outside. We actually had our own good chances in the first half and only scored on one.”
The home team got on the board in the 41st minute as Elise Lawson drove down the right side of the field and sent a low cross into the goalmouth that Carlyn Baldwin – making one of her few attacking runs of the match – tucked in past goalkeeper Jessica Stanfill. It had to be satisfying for the oft-injured Baldwin, but she deflected the credit via Twitter after the match: “She [Lawson] did all the work!!”
The second half was definitely dominated by the Spirit. “Getting the first goal definitely helped us,” said Lawson, “and we carried that momentum into the second half.”
The second goal came in the 55th minute off a Brianna Oliver corner kick from the right that landed in a crowd but fell to central defender Madison Hammond, who fired it into the netting.
The third came eleven minutes later as Amy Thompson – whom I interviewed last time – lined a cross in from well out on the right that Oliver fired into the upper left netting.
“The 2nd half seemed to be much more fluid in our favor,” said Best. “We dictated the tempo and pace of the game. We created some really good scoring opportunities because we had some dynamic combination play all over the field.”
Lawson, who assisted on the first goal, is another archetypal Braddock Roader. A member of the class of ’98, she’s been in the organization since she was 10 and played on the W-League team last year. Coming off an injury, she has yet to commit to a college. For now, “I just want to improve every game. This is definitely a higher level of play, and I’m just very thankful for this experience with these players. So I’m just looking to improve and enjoy this season.”
I also talked with Moore about William & Mary and her former teammate there, goalkeeper Caroline Casey, who had a brief stint in the NWSL with Sky Blue. “She’s incredible, and she’s definitely one of the seniors we’re going to miss next year.”
As for herself, “I’m going into my junior and senior season at William & Mary. I want to come in fitter and stronger and more technical. This team will help me do all those things.
“Our team’s going to be very young next year. Yes, it’s going to be tricky, but I think my class is definitely going to have to come in and be leaders on the field.”
The Academy has two matches next weekend, first at home at 7 pm on Friday, June 3, against Virginia Beach City FC (definitely not going to make that one), then on the road at the Richmond Strikers on Sunday, June 5, at 3 pm.